Essay: Dr J. Evans Pritchard PHD – rating method for poetry

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  • Published on: July 16, 2019
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  • Dr J. Evans Pritchard PHD - rating method for poetry
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The movie Dead Poets Society A new English teacher, John Keating, is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is known for its ancient, strict, orthodox traditions and extremely high standards. He uses unorthodox methods to reach out to his students, who face enormous pressures from their parents and the school. With Keating’s help, students Neil Perry, Todd Anderson and others learn to break out of their shells, pursue their dreams and seize the day.

In this film, in one of the books that the students that have been given, there is an introduction section called “ Understanding Poetry” by “ Dr J Evans Pritchard PHD.” This section of the film is an introduction to poetry, which describes a method of figuring out a poems greatness. According to the film, a poems greatness is graphed by calculating its importance, along with the poems perfection, in order to calculate a poems total greatness. In the film, there were two poems were compared by Pritchard in order for the students to at least get some idea of what poems were “ greater” than others. The film compared a sonnet by Lord Byron to a sonnet by William Shakespeare, it stated that a sonnet by byron would “ score high on importance, but only average on the perfection” where as the shakespearian sonnet would score high both horizontally, according to the film, “ revealing the poem to be truly great.” Today I’m going to take a look at the rating method employed by DR J. Evans Pritchard PHD, and I will apply this method to 3 different pieces of poetry in order to determine wether or not this method is actually a reasonable method to follow when trying to “Understand Poetry.”

Its important to remember, that as stated above, the first aspect I would be rating for this poem is its importance. Generally, the term “ importance “ can be interpreted in 2 different ways, the former, being its importance to general life itself and the latter, being its importance to the writer at the time of publication. As a result in order to analyse the poems importance I will talk about both of these aspects to combine an “average score” for the poem.

Once I have reviewed a poems “ importance”, then according to Pritchard’s rating method I must review a poems perfection. What the term “ Perfection” actually means in the case of poetry remains unknown to the viewer and open to interpretation, so I will analyse the term perfection from multiple different interpretations to then come up with an average score. Once this is done then my poetry review using the method is complete.

The first poem I will be reviewing is called “ Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” by Robert Frost. This poem is one of Robert Frost’s more “well known classic” poems. Published in 1923, it very quickly became one of those poems which countless amounts of people remembered, but even though many millions of people knew the words of the poem by heart, interpreting what the poem actually is no where near as straight forward.

The Second poem I will be reviewing is called I Wandered Lonely as a cloud (By William Wordsworth). This poem is a lyric poem focusing on the poet’s response to the beauty of nature. More specifically, the poem recaptures a moment on April 15th, 1802, when Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, were walking near a lake at Grasmere, Cumbria County, England. While walking, they came across a shore lined with daffodils. This experience is what specifically brought about this poem to be written.

When looking at this poem, in order to determine its importance, we would need to be aware of its importance to people who would read this poem. Based on the fact that the poem is about a specific pleasant experience, whilst some people might relate to what is being stated, others might not find the experience being described all that special, therefore it would have a “ medium “ score in terms of importance to its readers.

The Final poem, Is Called “ Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. This poem talks about how unlucky circumstances will not damage this person will to keep fighting. More to the point, the unlucky circumstances actually urge the person mentioned in this poem to keep going and to do his best to control his own fate rather than fate controlling him, and also it urges other people to do the same. The context of this poem can be clearly seen when you look at Henley’s ( the author) childhood. In short, he was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis at the age of 12 and went through years of pain and discomfort. Henley wrote Invictus whilst in hospital undergoing treatment for tuberculosis of the bones, specifically those in his left leg, which had to be amputated from the knee down. He was still only a young man at this time, which was was brought about this poem to be written.

When looking at this poem, first we need to take into account its importance to the people who read it. In my opinion this poem is very important to people who read it, because of the message that the poem portrays. In the poem, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is effectively calling as many people to fight hard when times are tough and dig deep when things don’t go to plan. It says quite emphatically that, it doesn’t matter who you are, believer or not, you can overcome dark times by being brave and never losing faith in your own soul’s strength. As a result, in my opinion the poem would rate very highly in terms of importance to outsiders reading it.

We also need to remember, its importance to the actual writer itself. Based on the fact that the poem is about urging people to fight hard despite their circumstances that are thrown their way, we can assume that the poem would have quite a massive importance to the writer, simply because he faced lots of challenges and was still facing lots of challenges at the time of writing, ( because of his leg being amputated) this poem sounds like he not only wanted to help other people through tough times, but he also wanted to help himself through tough times if anything else bad happened to him. Therefore this poem in my opinion would also rate very highly in terms of importance to the writer at the time of when the poem was written.

Overall, based on those 2 ratings, this means that if this poem was rated using pritchard’s method, then it would rate very high on the “ importance axis.” Now we are onto rating the poems perfection.

In short, based on all 3 rating methods, I have come to the conclusion that DR J Evans Pritchard’s rating method is not a viable one for determining a poem’s greatness. The reason this is the case is because the rating method is purely subjective and down to his opinion only, it doesn’t allow for differing opinion when differing opinion might technically still have the right answer. People might interpret poetry in different ways and from different perspectives and Pritchard’s method does not allow this to take place. As a result, the conclusion I have come to is that the approach that Pritchard takes in order to “ understand” poetry is not a worthwhile one.

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